Many independent retailers avoid ‘green’ projects because they believe they cost too much, according to The Grocer’s latest Top 50 reader panel survey.

As many as a quarter of retailers questioned say the initial investment to get some projects under way has prevented them from setting them up. One says: “We can’t afford to be as ‘green’ as we would like to be, because the margins we make won’t allow us to invest in environmentally friendly projects.” He adds that the long-term benefit still didn’t persuade him to overcome this barrier: “In the long run, if I invest now, I probably won’t have a long run.”

However, the view is not shared by the majority. One retailer says: “The cost of schemes doesn’t stop us investing, because we are looking to the future, although it could be prohibitive for some people.”

Nine out of ten of retailers claim to be working on ‘green’ projects. One independent says: “We have just introduced biodegradable carrier bags.”

Another says he’s focusing on several initatives including “working on better segregation of waste in stores and launching a campaign to encourage employees to turn switches off where appropriate”. Eight out of ten respondents believe championing ‘green’ issues could help them to attract shoppers.

That said, many insist that independents should be prepared to blow their own trumpet more when it comes to working on such projects.

However, opinions are evenly split over whether work on ‘green’ initiatives could or could not save them money. “It’s doubtful,” says one. “The investment seems to be all one way at the moment in terms of the added cost of these projects.”

Another says: “I believe they could save us money. The right use of electricity in particular fascinates me, but getting the right advice is a problem.”

The findings follow the revelation that The Grocer Top 50 member Mills Group is rolling out energy saving systems across its 76-store estate. (‘Mills’ energy-saving chillers are multiplying,’ The Grocer, 12 August, p8).

It is introducing chillers that use less electricity than those previously used and is also installing heating systems that draw power from chillers.